PDT Sports Editor
As the season neared for the Kentucky Warriors, the team’s leadership felt confident in the roster of talent that had been assembled for the 2012 season. Halfway through the regular season and the potential that looked so impressive on paper has transitioned into an unbeatable on-field product.
The Warriors of the semi-professional Northern Frontier Football League enter Saturday’s contest against the visiting Central Ohio Spartans with a perfect, 6-0 record and all the momentum that comes with being an undefeated team.
“I could go to the cliches, but you would love to finish perfect,” Kentucky coach Dan Polcyn said. “I try not to let it be an overriding theme but it is a something we would like to do. Our focus is on execution and taking care of the little things so the big things take care of themselves.”
The Warriors have been frequenting the end zone due to a simplification of their offensive attack as well as improved special teams. Entering Saturday’s contest, Kentucky has averaged nearly 35 points per contest.
“We scaled back our offense to things that we can successfully repeat and execute well,” Polcyn said. “And when you have guys like Nate Fannin and Jermaine Payton returning kicks it certainly helps. It’s awfully nice to put points on the board without putting the offense on the field.”
As nice as the offensive production has been in 2012, it has been the Warriors defense that has been the heartbeat of the club, according the Polcyn. The defense has allowed under 18 points a game.
“Our defense has put together some great performances,” Polycn said.
The 33 points allowed in Saturday’s 42-33 win over the Ohio Ducks was the most the team had allowed in a single contest this season, but Polcyn said those numbers are deceiving since the special teams and offense put the defense in a multiple compromised positions.
“We had some breakdowns in coverage where we were out-athleted and that will happen, but we had a blocked punt and our turnovers haunted us,” Polcyn said. “Special teams gave them two touchdowns and let our defense down.”
The leader of the defense has been Steve Hill. Polcyn said part of what makes the defensive lineman a positive influence on his teammates was his time spent serving the country in Iraq.
“He’s an older guy that has been playing very well for us,” Polcyn said.
The Warriors have an emerging leader on the offensive side of the ball in David Mallory.
“Over the last three or four games he has started to carry and catch the ball very well for us,” Polcyn said. “He has also played some quarterback for us so we have another great athlete on the field.”
This is Kentucky’s first year in the NFFL and Warriors are living up to the league’s preseason expectation of excellence. The Warriors have been occupying a spot in the Top 3 of AmericanFootballNews.net’s 2012 Eastern Red Power ratings for the Summer and Fall all season.
The next challenge to perfection for the team that plays its home games in Spartan Municipal Stadium will be the rival Central Ohio Spartans. Kickoff was originally set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Portsmouth but expected high temperatures pushed the start to 8 p.m. in order to accommodate fan comfort.
Speaking of the fans, Polcyn said the level of support by area fans has been impressive.
“As a coach you kind of get tunnel vision out there, but I have been around semi-pro football for a dozen years and this is the best followed team I have seen,” he said.
Though the entire 2012 season has been dedicated to the men and women of the United States military, Saturday’s contest will be particularly special as it is Veterans’ Appreciation Night.
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.